Vui Choong, ThomsonAdsett's new Hong Kong studio leader, shares his insight into the rapid changes facing the built environment sector in Hong Kong, mainland China and Asia more broadly.
Choong has over 15 years of experience as an architect and urban designer within the residential, commercial, transport, retail and infrastructure sectors. He has worked across China, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand in varying roles.
What will you bring to your new role?
Hong Kong is located in a very strategic location, next to China and close to South East Asia. Drawing on the experience of ThomsonAdsett’s other studios throughout Australia and Asia, I’m excited to explore what we can bring to Hong Kong, particularly in the seniors living, health, education, interior and retail sectors.
My multicultural background and language skills will help ThomsonAdsett excel further into the Asian market.
What are some of the design trends you’re seeing in the Asia Pacific market?
After close to two decades of being an experimental ground of international architecture, there is now a tendency in China to return to vernacular architecture (that is, architecture specific to China). There’s a new wave of young Chinese architects and designers who have delivered some very impressive work. I see a strong trend in patriotism and Chinese or Asia-specific design.
There is, however, a big demand for good international design and many Chinese clients are willing to invest in it. Increasingly the trend in Asia Pacific is about global understanding and its application and integration to suit local culture, context and conditions. The Chinese society is highly influenced by top-down Government policies, one example of this being the Belt and Road Initiative (an economic development strategy). These initiatives and the movement of funds and people will allow increased design experimentation.
The digital revolution has brought about a new “sharing” culture in China – there’s bike sharing, carpooling, taxis or private vehicle services (like Uber), meal delivery and co-working spaces. Although on the surface it may seem similar to what’s happening in Western countries, China has taken things to the next level to bring about convenience to public life in general.
China is also a new experimental ground for digital disruption and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications. It’s essential for us, as architects, to understand how to bring these digital applications or AI into our designs in the near future.
What exciting opportunities do you see for ThomsonAdsett in Hong Kong or Asia more broadly?
China’s demographics are changing – the middle class (with disposal income) is increasing in size, and their lifestyle is changing for the better, so there is a demand for good architecture and design. At the same time, China and South East Asia are experiencing a surge in their ageing population.
As a part of the Asian tradition (particularly Chinese), the concept of family dependability remains strong. Most elderly people are looked after by their children within the same household. However, the seniors living concept has been well received within China’s affluent circles. The seniors living market, as well as healthcare, is growing. It’s a great opportunity for ThomsonAdsett to bring its longstanding knowledge of these sectors to China.